Sunday, May 22, 2011

Building on Faith

“Building on Faith”

Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalms 25:14; Matthew 7:24-27

Pastor Tom Millner


I hear from folks fairly often that they feel their faith is wavering. A little probing and I find that what is lacking is the “feeling” of God’s presence in their life at that or recent moments. We all, to some degree or another, equate our faith with our feeling. It’s especially true in our modern culture where feelings are held up as the ultimate test of reality in social media and other forms of communications. “I’m not feeling it” is a common expression denoting the absence of something that is at other times professed, or it may simply be a denial that another’s expression is valid. It’s time we let go of the “feeling” god and grab hold of the faith in God! Feelings are the result of thoughts, conscious or unconscious and thoughts can be true or false. Faith in God is a conscious choice! We are faced with making that choice every moment of every day.

Everyone has faith. Even the atheist has faith that his reasoning is superior to any potential evidence that God is the author of the universe. Those who are worshipping here stand on the faith that God loves us so much that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes (has faith is this truth) in Him will have eternal life with Him. That eternal life is not some distant thing, by the way; eternal life is now and forever! Faith abounds in all of us. The challenge is not only related to the degree of faith, but also to the object of our faith.  Our reading from Proverbs today reminds us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Let’s translate that for today’s living: “Steadfastly trust (maintain your faith) that God is who He says He is and don’t be distracted by your momentary feelings or experiences and the result will be a deepened walk and relationship with Him, no matter what is going on around you.” Faith is the rock upon which we lay the foundation of our beliefs. Our beliefs drive our actions. Therefore, faith is the fuel for our journey!

Matthew 7:24-27 quotes Jesus telling those whom He was teaching that putting into action His instructions is like the wise builder who constructed his house on a rock. When storms of life come, the house built on the word of Christ is steadfast and unmovable. In contrast, the houses constructed on the sands of the times, the whim of the movement, will be swept away in the storm. The rock on which He calls us to build is the one that puts God first in all things and places others in a position equal to self. Jesus had been talking to the crowd about things prevalent to them in their experience. Things like standing up for what you believe is God’s way, grace as the fulfillment of what the Law can’t accomplish, not taking the life of someone else either literally or figuratively, staying true to your relationship commitment, letting your word be your testimony, not giving tit for tat, loving our enemies, caring for the needy, praying and fasting, not worrying, not judging others, and going to God with our requests for everything by asking, seeking, and knocking. So the foundation of faith is relationship; relationship with Him and relationship with others lived out through Him. In the words of Hebrews 12:2 “2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He is the beginning, the middle and the end. Relationship requires our attention, time, and energy. We can’t build where we are ignoring! We so desperately need that relationship with Him but we look for its substitute around every corner.  What we desire is Him, what we often seek is His substitute that looks like satisfaction. Matthew 6:33 reminds us “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” “All these things” is not the cheap substitute, but the “real thing” in relationship. Faith in Him is our foundation! When we build our lives on Him, we’re not moved by the rising waters of doubt around us or the mighty force of the winds of change. We are firmly standing on the only rock that will never be moved!

Faith not only serves as our foundation, but it also serves as the path upon which we are to walk. Paul asserts to the church in Corinth that even though we are bound to this world in these bodies, our residence is permanently in eternity. He says; “We live (walk) by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) I’ve heard so many people express their doubts about God really loving them. They look at how others who they have believed have judged them, how their families have judged them for being who they are, and how repulsed they believe God must be by their own desires and they conclude that there is no way God could love them. We know that the Gospel of John says, however that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We know there is no exclusion clause in the fine print. There is also no expiration date or “best bought by” date!  1 Peter 3:18 reminds us “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” How many times would He need to die for you to believe that you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God? For you to believe that He died for everyone else, but somehow for you that seems so unlikely, is to place yourself as a far superior judge to God Himself. When you choose that path, you are walking in faith not of God, but of His enemy. Faith in God is the walk that starts the day with thanks to God for the gift of another day in His loving grace. Faith walked during the day is each step being taken in the knowledge of His grace and the promise that “… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) That includes all of us “who so evers.” This doesn’t mean everyone is going to like me, move over for me, show deference to me, be nice to me, or even look out for my best interest. It doesn’t mean that all Christians are going to acknowledge me as God’s very own or that all of the peeps in the local peepdom are going to affirm me. Armed with the knowledge of His grace and mercy being sufficient, I can walk each day in the faith that “… I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not a single person in here or anyone listening in on video is perfect. To try to be perfect is perfectly sinful! Walking by faith in Christ as the perfector of our faith makes us perfectly lovable in the eyes of God! So faith in your daily walk means you are grounded in your knowledge of who you are in Him. Your daily walk with Him keeps you there!

Not only can we walk daily on the foundation of faith, but we can also soar to new heights on faith. Isaiah 40:31 tells us “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Sometimes we limit ourselves to a crawl in faith when we are called to soar in faith! God gives us spiritual gifts, hearts (passion) for certain things, abilities that are unique to us, personalities that are differentiated to glorify Him, and He allows us to have experiences that when reflected upon in light of His grace and mercy, provide us with a SHAPE to fly for Him. I know some folks who don’t like the spotlight. They are reluctant to be out front, yet they have a passion to witness and share the Good News of God’s grace and mercy with others as a testimony of what He has done in their lives. God has given them gifts and abilities that He desires to be used to His glory. If we believe that everyone should take the same flight path, we’d have Saints crashing all around us! (Sounds like some of our peeps, but I digress). When God gives, He desires that we use those gifts of Spirit, heart, ability, personality, and experience to soar for Him. The outcome from your soar is like no other! The ostrich cannot flit like a hummingbird! But the hummingbird can’t fight off the predator like the might legs of the ostrich. Both are beautiful in God’s eyes. Knowing what God has given, we are called by faith to boldly soar in our uniquely created way for Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” With His spirit of power, love, and self-discipline we have the resource to spread our wings before Him and soar to new heights for His glory. The beauty of spreading our wings in Him is in our knowing that every time there is a wind blowing against us, we are able to soar to new heights because of Him. Romans 8:37-39 reminds us: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God created you to be uniquely His. No one else can fulfill that role. He calls you by faith to build, walk, and soar each day in the knowledge of who you are because of Him. He calls you to be the you He has created. Everyone you’ve tried to be has been taken already!










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